WHO IS JESUS?
He is very close to us in every aspect of our lives.
Dear brothers and sisters,
When we read or listen to the Bible we usually hear the Pharisees or the disciples discussing about Jesus’ identity. An example of this was when Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem where he threw out people who were selling pigeons and sheep and also the money changers. (Mark 11:15) They questioned Jesus where he got his authority from and with whose permission. Moreover, when Jesus performed miracles on the Sabbath days the Pharisees also questioned Jesus about his authority. However, in today’s Gospel it is Jesus who asks the disciples, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ Before we listen to the disciple’s answer, we need to listen to the writers and poets’ views about Jesus.
According to the writers and poets, Jesus is the sky, the sea, the sunrise and the sunset. He is also the wind of hot weather; the eyes of babies, the tranquility of stream, the happiness of people and so on. In these views Jesus seems very romantic and very close to nature and people. Now we should listen to the answer given by the people in the Gospel today, they said that Jesus was, ‘John the Baptist; or Elijah; or one of the ancient prophets who came back to life.’ However Peter, no doubt inspired by the Holy Spirit, said that Jesus is ‘The Christ of God’. I wonder what each one of us would say in answer to Jesus’ question. However good our answers may be, it is better to listen to what Jesus himself tells us, as to exactly who he is.
First of all, Jesus is the gate for the sheep, ‘I am the gate, whoever comes in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture.’ (John 10:7-9). Secondly, Jesus is the good shepherd, ‘I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep.’ (John 10:11). Thirdly, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.’ (John 14:6). Fourthly, Jesus is the real vine, ‘I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.’ (John 15:5). Finally, Jesus is the bread of life, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live for ever. The bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I give so that the world may live.’ (John 6:51).
Brothers and sisters, through these things that Jesus tells us about himself, we can understand that He is very close to us in every aspect of our lives. So close indeed, that we are united with him and each other, as the vine and branches, and as the bread of life. Each Sunday we gather at church to listen to the word of God and receive Holy Communion. Therefore as we receive the body of Christ today, let us remember that Jesus lives in us, and that therefore as Saint Paul says: ‘It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20).
If we do this then we all will be able to say with Saint Peter that Jesus is the Christ of God and He is the one who has saved us and will lead us to meet God in the eternal life of heaven. May God bless us all and all those we love and cherish. Amen.
Fr. Peter Thanh Ha